Cove Is One Part, There Are Others

At some point I did begin the series, “Putting Up My Wainscot” which is really more than that, it’s also producing my wainscot so I can put it up there. For the most part that has been dimensioning and planing some stock material I have on hand with a number of plane set-ups like for instance a hollowing plane

Hollowing Plane

and rabbet plane though personally I prefer the name that the Dutch in my area use and call it, sponningschaf

The flat bottom profile plane

also the one I took and take the least pleasure in using when it comes to this work, that combination plane.


And that one got me the groves in the sides of the planks for splines, saving me wood by eliminating the tung which would otherwise come at the expense of visible surface wood and the effective width.


The one plane I didn’t mention until now is my old Norwegian moulding plane with that sweet profile. Really, it was the inspiration for the whole of this work and so you can imagine the damper it put on my working enthusiasm – something in need of constant guarding – when I found that the iron was far to soft to hold up planing oak. I can presume this plane out of  Norwegian Scandinavia was made with the intension it would be put to use on soft quarter sawn spruce and not this unruly tough old oak.

Really old moulding plane from out of Norway

Changing the bevel angle helped some but not enough, still to weak an edge on there. Then I mailed the iron down to the smid and he got in back into my grubby hands in good time but it was hardly any better and so in a desperate attempt I stuck it in the fire myself and quenched it in oil, that being safer than water when the precise nature of the steel being treated is not known. After that I noticed a bit of a change. It held a reasonable edge but even when I reconditioned the plane’s soul the results left me with thoughts of picking up the router, yes it was that bad.

Story of the Mellemas of Oostrum, Friesland

The Mellema clan had been in this village for 300 years and maybe for the last two hundred of them in this house. This was the carpenter workshop for the village before the family experienced their  decline in the face of the growth of the post WWII Nazi collaborationist Visser family carpentry business which thrives on putting up tin cow sheds to this day. Unfortunately for me, when they packed up and left the family gave away most of the stuff that the old Mellema still had and from what I understand that was a bunch of stuff of every kind. You can imagine that with so much stuff some of it just got left behind and so I inherited a few insignificant tools and things to include a bundle of moulding plane irons, which brings us back to my wainscot work. With the one iron that was a reasonable match in size in hand I went to my metal shop, the old horse stall, and fixed myself up a reasonable replacement iron and after that was able to get on with the work at hand.


Don’t get me wrong, this plane is a primitive tool and getting put to use in a way it was not made for and probably more sense was called for when I was making some initial decisions about the commencement of work on this wainscot, which is to say I feel the protests of the old Norwegian plane when I am at work even with the new iron. Still, better than having that thing collect dust up there in the shelf.







  1. Hallo Ernest,
    Dus de beitel was nog niet hard genoeg? Ik had nog zo gehoopt dat een twentse smid wel even dit klusje kon klaren. Waar heb je nu de beitel van gemaakt?
    Groeten Gerald

  2. Waarschijnlijk is de oude beitel gemakt van een staal wat niet zo hard kan. Je moet denken dat hij wordt oorspronkelijk bedoeld om heel fijn vurenhout te schaven en ook vanwege de relatief ingewikkelde vorm zo zacht dat je hem makkelijk met een vijl kon slijpen.

    Ik had hier liggen een beitel van een oude bolleschaf die past en die was harder maar toch kon ik een nieuwe snij met een vijl vormgeven. Die werkt redelijk, in eider geval goed genoeg zodat ik de planken kan voorzien van de profiel die ik wou hebben. Daarna gaat dit schaaf met pension. Wij hebben onze best gedaan met de ouwe maar dat is niet gelukt. Mooi was het als hij kon in zijn geheel weer zijn werk doen. Mijn nieuwe tijdelijk beitel past niet echt perfect in de schaaf maar de Noors smid vraagt 100€ om een nieuwe te maken.

  3. Hi Ernest, Nice work, as always. It is just sad to let some old molding plane die, so I’ve done some things to fix or replace irons too, there is the darndest collection of odd and mis-matched old planes in the bottom of the joiner’s chest, but sooner or later they all have a job to do. I have a very old sash plane with William Butcher irons, they have thumbnail size chips of tool steel welded on for cutting edges, rather crudely done but fulfilling all of the essentials. Sometimes that’s the only way to save one.

  4. Hi John,

    You’re right of course, I shouldn’t give up on that plane, maybe just save it for softer wood and put an insert in there to close up the mouth opening. The only planes like that I have which are beyond saving are those ones the worms have destroyed. Still, it goes along with my constant plea, more pronounced on my axe website, for more blacksmiths willing to take on tool repair work instead of the novelty of producing new things, knives and axes mostly. It’s a concept that could and probably will take off once I can get it out there more widely, a task mostly restricted to this and the other website since I’ve given up on the forums as useless mostly because they tend to get dominated by people with low levels of interest.


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